Melted bead suncatchers are a really hot (no pun intended, when they’re in the oven!) craft idea for kids and adults alike! Do you remember the “Makeit and Bakeit” kits from the 80s? I’m Gen-X so for my younger readers, these kits had this really cool set of metal and glass frames that you’d fill up with little sparkly micro beads ad bake them in the oven until they melted – and the results would look so pretty when you’d hang them in the windows.
Now you can recreate that with this project. If you have got a big collection of beads that you can’t figure out what to do with them, or are oddly mismatched in some way, this is a genius re-purpose technique you should try out!
I’ll have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about putting beads in a hot oven at first, but the articles I found assured me that all I would have to do is open a window and just keep an eye on things. Other than a minor mishap, I’m pleased with the way my suncatchers turned out!
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Here’s everything I used:
You’ll need a translucent bead assortment – the more, the better. Look for pony beads if you can, as they appear to be very popular. My collection is mostly varied translucent colors and shapes. Some of them I have had for quite awhile. In others words, err on the side of more, just in case you come up short with something and need extras.
In addition, you’ll also need:
- Wax paper
- Aluminum foil
- Some cooking spray, like PAM
- A metal compartment, could be a muffin tin, cookie cutters, a square or round cake pan, etc. Just be sure they are all aluminum.
I have Pyrex dishes but I never put them above any temps beyond 325 degrees so I don’t use those. I’m not sure about silicone since I don’t have any silicone bakeware (Maybe let me know in the comments if you have some experience with silicone molds as far as baking goes; and I’ll update this section .)
Here are some transparent color beads (opaque won’t work for this) that would be perfect for this project; I think the ones with glitter in the middle would look really dope too!
Arranging Your Beads First
I’m using a combination of bead patterns. You can do that too, choose color schemes you like best and form a pattern with them inside the mold you’re using.
You may want to take a handful of beads and plan out a pattern before committing, also to be sure they will spread out and not overlap on each other.Here is my first formed pattern. There are a few gaps in there, so I needed to scout out a few smaller beads that would fill them – a few clear ones did the trick.
I’m doing blue-lavender purple ones for one window and a more bold bright color pattern for another window. I’m using these cute diamond and heart shaped cookie cutters. There are also a club and spade cutter in the batch, but I only needed 2. Hearts and diamonds are very commonly used in decor so I chose those two. They are the same set I used for one of my clay projects here.
For the blue/lavender batch, I’m using a muffin tin – hopefully you know by now it’s great to have some cookware set aside just for crafts. As it turned out, I needed a few clear beads to go in between the gaps.
Some of them were more like “champagne” colored, but I added them too as it’s a neutral enough color that lavender or blue could melt into easily without ruining the effect.
Lightly spray the inside of the compartment(s) with some cooking spray so the beads won’t stick. Now arrange the beads, you may have to nudge a few of them, into place, so they don’t overlap. Here is how my first set looks when arranged:
Baking the Beads
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put your arranged beads in the oven . If you’re using cookie cutters like I am, spread out a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack before proceeding.
Now one source I read said 10 minutes, but when I checked them out…they had gotten soft, but not melted fully. It took 10 more minutes to get the right amount of melting.
So be sure to set your oven timer for 20 minutes, and open a window and turn on a fan, because melting plastic is definitely going to produce a weird aroma. Don’t worry, it is NOT going to set off the smoke alarm off or anything!
Well, here’s what my first set looked like. This is a single bead layer. I do see a few gaps…(I used ALL of the purple and lilac tri-beads I had on hand) So if you’re still with me, create a second layer with your beads if you want. You might get a little better result.
Here is what the first set looked like after extracting them …
This is my first batch so I will know what to do different next time.(The round ones save for a few little flaws, I’m happy with, but I will have to clean off the excess Pam before continuing…)
I did a do-over with the bright color beads…I had a double layer and for awhile I wasn’t sure how well it would work, or it might be too thick, but then I was surprised – I thought they looked great! Here’s what they turned out like:
Let them cool on an oven rack for awhile before proceeding…
Hanging Your Suncatchers
Hanging your suncatchers will be the next most fun part, the muffin tin round ones being kind of smallish, I thought would look really dope with a row of three hanging in the window. Since I had 6 in all, two sets of three I think looked really nice. I also added some beads in between each round disc for a little more panache.
You can use a hot glue gun or e6000 and glue a hanging cord on the back, or use a tiny drill bit to make a small hole in the back. I took that approach; but first I put some tape over the spot, before drilling, to protect the area.
Then I ran a length of fishing line through each one, knotted them, and proceeded to hang them in my office window. I love the crimped edges of the shapes left behind as a result of the cookie-cutter’s design. Here they are hanging right here!
Enjoy! Let me know how your melted bead suncatchers turn out, and if this tutorial helped you out too?